15km 👣 1027m ⬆️ 307m ⬇️

We set off early, in the dark, because I wanted to hike to Pardores in the morning and summit Teide in the afternoon/evening – and also because we were doing the GR131 track in reverse which meant that our hike today would be predominantly uphill – overall an ambitious plan.

(Note we skipped the Arona to Vilaflor stage of the official GR131 as it was much cheaper to fly on Tuesday than Monday during the UK half term holidays.)

Hiking by star/moonlight is pretty special. It was reasonably light even when we set off at about 6:45 am, the daylight came quickly and the paths were very well maintained, so it wasn’t long before I turned off my headtorch. Watching the sun rise as we gained height and glimpsed the ever-more distant coastline through the trees was incredible. We stopped for a leisurely sunrise breakfast – and hot coffee! (thank you camping gas!) – before pushing on to more brutal and exposed uphill sections. Meanwhile La Gomera seemed to rest on the clouds like a magical floating island.

The higher we got, the colder it got, and with the wind robbing our hard-generated heat, we couldn’t stop for too long at a time. Seeing ice and snow under scorching sun is always pretty striking.

Hiking uphill towards black volcanic earth/rock/sand

We passed the highest point on the whole GR131 and were rewarded with incredible views first to the South, then to the North, including jaw-dropping views of El Teide, as we crossed the ridge below Guajara.

Just a few kilometres from the hotel, we started seeing the first other hikers of the day, on day hikes from the road. From here it was a short drop and then a nearly flat track walk to the busy Paradores.

This rather expensive hotel is currently the only place you can currently stay in the National Park as the Altavista Refuge on Teide hasn’t re-opened since covid. As a result, our whole itinerary for Tenerife revolved around the Paradores’ availability – they only had a room available for one night, so we had to do the GR131 backwards, in order to ensure we would get to the hotel on that one night! (I’m all for wild camping but not in National Parks with heavy footfall and fragile ecosystems.)

For anyone wanting to do the GR131 yourselves in Tenerife, obviously check the latest information, but this is what we found out about accommodation in Teide National Park:

  • The Altaviste Refuge is closed for covid. You can check the latest status here. I emailed info@volcanoteide.com to double-check the website is up-to-date and got an email confirming it was closed.
  • The Paradores is busy, gets booked up in advance, and is overpriced – it has a total monopoly in the National Park. However, you can get a good discount (I think we got 25% off), vouchers for a free breakfast for two, and allegedly a welcome drink (we didn’t!) by becoming a Friend of Paradores. You can join for free here. If you’re on a budget, bring your own food. There is a cafe and restaurant, both run by the hotel, both also expensive.
  • You could get a bus somewhere else and return the next day. This would be cheaper than staying at the Paradores hotel, but a hassle, and you have to get your timings right. There is a single bus – the 348 – that leaves the Paradores at 4pm and goes to Puerto de la Cruz (about 2 hours’ journey) stopping at La Orotava (about 1.5 hour journey) along the way. There is loads of accommodation in both La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz. There is a bus back the next morning – it leaves Puerto de la Cruz at 9:30am and La Orotava at about 9:45am. More information here. Be warned – we didn’t see the bus full but I have heard reports of it filling up. If this is your plan, get to the stop early I guess?
  • You’re not officially allowed to wild camp anywhere in Tenerife but you’re really not allowed to wild camp in the National Park, and it wouldn’t be that easy to be discreet anyway.
  • While the Altaviste is closed, however, there is an option to apply for a permit to bivvy on Teide itself, from the National Park authority. I’ll write how to do this in my post about getting to the summit of Teide.